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It’s time for Jack Grealish to decide whether he wants to play for England or the Republic of Ireland.

And reports suggest that he will pick the country of his birth, Ireland.

Jack Grealish would be right to pick EnglandIf Grealish does choose to enlist as senior player in The Green Army, the team he has represented at youth level, he would be selling himself short. He’d have, at best, only a slim chance at qualifying for a major tournament with Ireland; clearly, he’d have a much better chance with England.

If ‘Super Jack’, as he is affectionately know as by those in the Holte End, lives up to his brimming potential, then he could be for Ireland what Gareth Bale is for Wales. Although it’s certainly too early to start directly comparing Grealish’s talent to the likes of Bale, at 19 Bale had lost his place as Spurs’ left-back to Benoît Assou-Ekotto, whereas Grealish – who just turned 20 – is very much one of the first names on the team sheet for Tim Sherwood, despite him having made only 25 appearances for Villa. And in the Welsh team, Bale is surrounded by some top talent in Aaron Ramsey and Ashley Williams, while the Irish set up contains no one of that calibre.

Martin O’Neill’s squad is pretty much a collection of decent Premier League and Championship players. This isn’t to dismiss the Ireland team entirely; they’ve got a capable squad, who are pushing hard for Euro 2016 qualification. But it isn’t an elite team. With England he’ll get to line up alongside the likes of Raheem Sterling, Wayne Rooney and Joe Hart, whereas if he opts for Ireland, he’d play with Paul McShane, Simon Cox and Darron Gibson. It’s hardly a fair comparison.

It might feel like beating a dead horse, such is the intensity that this issue has been covered in the media, but Grealish needs to decide soon if he’s got any chance of taking part in the Euros in France. England manager Roy Hodgson hinted there could be time for Grealish to make his mark and book a place on the plane to next year. With the Three Lions having already qualified for the Euros with two games to spare, and with a 100% record, this is the ideal time for Grealish to make clear his preference to play for England; with the pressure off, Hodgson will likely experiment with his squad for the final two qualifying matches. Grealish’s chances of selection are boosted even more by the injuries to Danny Welbeck and Daniel Sturridge. Their absences may force the England setup to consider a more creative design for their attack, making room for Grealish.

From a Villa perspective, the Villans would be thrilled if Grealish became an England player, especially as their last England international, Fabian Delph, slithered out of the door during the transfer period. Grealish would join a long, record-breaking list of Villa players who have represented England, and would put Villa back in the lead after Tottenham Hotspur equalled Villa’s tally of 73 capped players when Ryan Mason came on against Italy at the Juventus Stadium last season.

Although some Villa players, like former England international and Villa midfielder, Lee Hendrie, have only a solitary senior appearance for England, Grealish will be hoping to have a more sustained international career, although that’s far from assured. Being a one-and-done international is the risk Grealish takes if opting to make Wembley his second home. Even at his current level, he’d probably get a fair few Ireland caps. But if he hits his potential he could become an integral part of the England setup.

It’s a big decision for a young man to have to make, this early in his professional life. At this point it might be time for England to force his hand in October and call him up to represent the Three Lions.

Originally published at outside90.com

Post written by Josh Smith, Blog: jsmith2212.wordpress.com, Twitter: @JSmith2212
for Outside 90, Blog: outside90.com, Twitter: @Outside90

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